Joseph Mallord William Turner

Roxburgh Castle, Near Kelso


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 185 × 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 36 a

Catalogue entry

Across folios 36 verso–38 (D25989–D25992; CCLXVII 36a–38) are a series of rapidly executed sketches of ruins that have been tentatively identified as Roxburgh Castle. The ruins are hard to identify as there was little left of the castle in Turner’s day and even less still stands today. However, it is known from the diary of Robert Cadell that Turner and he visited the castle on the morning of 10 August 1831.1 Sketches on folios 22 verso and 55 verso (D25967, D26023; CCLXVII 22a, 57a) have been identified as Roxburgh with more certainty. An illustration of Roxburgh Castle by E.W. Haslehust shows that in the early twentieth century the ruins included a cylindrical tower and square structure, on what must be the eastern side of the castle mound at the north end.2 Similar looking ruins appear in these sketches by Turner.
There are four sketches on the current page, which was used with the book turned to the right. At the top is a rough sketch of a cylindrical tower. Beneath this is a view of a river turning to the right with a high bank or hill to the left. This matches the view north along the Teviot from the castle. There follow two similar sketches of the square ruin which stands at the top of the mound with the riverbank beneath it. Similar sketches appear on folios 37–38.
Gerald Finley compared the style of execution of the present page and folio 37 (which he had not identified) to other rapidly executed sketches of Newark and Norham Castles (D26027, D26028, D26066; CCLXVII 59a, 60, 79).3

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, Wednesday 10 August 1831, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc.5188, Box 1, folio 111; transcribed in Finley 1972, p.384.
John Geddie and E.W. Haselhust, The Scott Country, Beautiful Scotland, London and Glasgow [?1936].
Finley 1972, p.367 note 54.

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